Forsaking All Other
by Catherine Meyrick
Publication Date: April 1, 2018
eBook & Print; 291 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.
Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a yearís grace to find a husband more to her liking.
Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of Englandís campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicesterís army in the Netherlands.
Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmundís wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.
With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourneís household, time is running out for both of them.
You can read the first chapter here.
The beautiful cover for the novel was designed by Jennifer Quinlan of Historical Fiction Book Covers.
Tell us about yourself and Forsaking All Other.
I am an Australian, living in Melbourne, although I grew up on the outskirts of Ballarat in country Victoria, in a family with a love of storytelling. We didn’t get a TV until I was eleven so, for most of my childhood, evening entertainment was adults telling stories, reading aloud, or listening to stories on the radio.
I have always loved history and studied it at University. I discovered historical fiction when my father gave me a copy of The Flight of the Heron by D.K. Broster for my thirteenth birthday. Since then most of my reading has been historical fiction across a wide range of periods.
I have worked at a variety of jobs over the years – clerk, nurse, trainee teacher, tax assessor before finally finding my niche as a librarian.
How did you get the inspiration for Forsaking All Other?
It started as the result of a daily writing exercise – a scene that came out of nowhere of a woman lost in the meaner streets of Elizabethan London. There was something about the character that made me want to develop her story further. I knew the late Elizabethan period fairly well and wanted to write a story that reflected the reality of women’s lives at that time, so Bess became a reasonably ordinary woman caught up in situations that did arise in that period, resolved in ways that were probable rather than extraordinary.
The book was so well researched! Tell me about your research process.
I studied Early Modern England when I was at university about 400 years ago and have continued reading about it ever since. So when I came to write Forsaking All Other I had a decent knowledge of the society and the way it operated. After I had written the first couple of drafts, I went through and identified areas where I needed more information to give a sense of authenticity to the story. I then sought sources that could fill in those gaps.
Research is an ongoing process through all the drafts I write. Forsaking All Other has been through at least a dozen drafts and with each draft something new would come up that needed checking. For example, I spent two days trying to determine the route English people took when travelling from Dublin to England in the 1580s just so I could write the sentence ‘On the open road they broke into a gallop as they headed for Dalkey and the boat that would take them back to England.’ And then, I discarded that chapter in a later revision.
I rely heavily on a historical timeline and weave the actions of my fictional characters into that. I have found Google Books invaluable in creating this timeline through digitized copies of books published in the 19th century of the correspondence of major political figures of the period. From these I could work out things like the date Sir Philip Sidney’s body arrived back in England, who accompanied it, where Sir Francis Walsingham was residing in December 1586, even small details like the name of the Keeper at the Gatehouse Prison. Research has been made so much easier by the wonders of the internet.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Why?
I have always written – a diary, poetry and short stories in my teens – and did have dreams of being published ‘one day’ but it wasn’t until I had my children that I started to write seriously. Initially, I had to write my way out of the restrictive and quite stilted patterns of academic and public service writing. I can’t explain why I wrote. I was encouraged at school, particularly in Secondary School by a teacher who ran a small writing group on Saturday mornings. I think if a person gets encouragement in any field, they start to think, ‘I can do this’ and put more effort into improving.
What would your advice be to aspiring writers out there?
Read. Read widely. Read classics, read what is popular, read in your chosen genre and read outside it. Take a few reputable writing courses. Listen to any professional advice you are given and think especially seriously about those things they say that you hate the most – they are probably right. Keep faith in yourself and never give up. And if you fail to find a publisher take a leaf from my favourite book, the first I learnt to read, The Little Red Hen. When all those publishers are saying, ‘Not I’, say to yourself, ‘Very well, I will do it myself!’. There are people out there waiting to hear your story.
What are your writing inspirations?
When I began writing seriously I used story starters and images but these days it is most often an idea, something I see in the street, a half-remembered dream that is a starting point. A couple of times a week I go for a brisk walk around our local lake, a haven of birdlife and greenery in the middle of a busy inner urban suburb. I let my mind wander and I find immediate writing problems often resolve themselves, and ideas, particularly for poetry, appear. Time spent daydreaming on public transport, when I have forgotten a book, helps too. And that is a good time to surreptitiously observe the behaviour of humankind.
Tell me about the last historical novel you read.
The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements is a chilling tale, set in the 17th century, fourteen years into the reign of Charles II, though people and places still bear the scars of the English Civil War. Mercy Booth lives with her father and an aging female servant on Scarcross Hall, an isolated farm in Yorkshire. Mercy now runs the farm, doing much of the work dressed in male clothing, alongside her hired hands. Rumours swirl about a history of past violence at Scarcross Hall, a place overlooked by standing stones, the White Ladies, where there are whispers of ancient blood sacrifice and a sense of something evil lurking on the moors. With the arrival of a stranger, Ellis Ferreby, a man with a troubled past, inexplicable things start happening – three ancient coins disappear, sheep are brutally mutilated, footsteps sound within locked rooms. The story is compelling and atmospheric, the landscape and the rhythm of the faming year brought vividly to life. Even the minor characters are well drawn and believable, their attitudes and beliefs in keeping with the period. There is a brooding sense of menace from the very beginning which slowly intensifies. I was hooked from the first line – ‘I was born with blood on my hands.’
Absolutely worth reading, but not if you are up late after everyone else has gone to bed.
What do you in your free time when you aren’t writing?
I am an intermittent gardener. I plant what looks pretty, not to any particular plan, and allow my garden to manage itself most of the time. Other than that, I am a family history obsessive. I started building on my parents’ research about ten years ago and have managed to take the research back a couple of generations further and to fill in some gaps. I cannot fault my mother’s research and she did it all the old fashioned way without the internet.
What are you working on next?
I am revising a novel called ‘The Bridled Tongue’, set in Elizabethan England, a couple of years later than Forsaking All Other, with an entirely new set of characters. The backdrop is the threat of immanent invasion by the Spanish in 1588 – the Spanish Armada. Alys Bradley, an unmarried woman in her late twenties is pressured into an arranged marriage. I want to explore the way a relationship could develop where the partners to it were not ‘in love’. Once again, the underlying themes are marriage and a woman’s attempt to find a life that has meaning for her. It touches on issues such as sibling rivalry, jealousy, witchcraft accusations and the way the past can reach out and affect the present.
Thank you for stopping by Books and Glamour! Can’t wait for your next book
About the Author
Catherine Meyrick is a writer of historical fiction with a particular love of Elizabethan England. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record ñ tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways not unlike ourselves.
Although she grew up in regional Victoria, Australia, she has lived all her adult life in Melbourne. She has worked as a nurse, a tax assessor and finally a librarian. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also a family history obsessive.
Blog Tour Schedule
Wednesday, June 6
Review & Excerpt at Laura’s Interests
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Review at Cup of Sensibility
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Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All
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Review at What Cathy Read Next
Tuesday, June 12
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit
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Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
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Review at WS Momma Readers Nook
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Feature at Passages to the Past
Monday, June 18
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile
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